Court upholds convictions, life sentences for North Carolina gang leaders

Published 8:12 am Thursday, July 28, 2022

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A three-judge panel from the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals has issued a unanimous published opinion affirming the trial convictions and multiple life sentences for gang leaders who were convicted on charges of racketeering (RICO), drug trafficking and gang-related murders, according to a press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Eastern District of North Carolina.

“These gang leaders used gun violence, intimidation, and murder to terrorize parts of Raleigh for nearly two decades” said U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina Michael Easley. “The Court’s ruling ensures they will spend the rest of their lives behind bars. We will never stop seeking justice for victims of gun violence and we will ensure sentences reflect the severity of the crime committed.”

Demetrice R. Devine, also known as “Respect,” of Garner, and Brandon Jowan Magnum, also known as “B-Easy,” of Knightdale, were convicted in October 2019 for conspiracy to participate in a pattern of racketeering (RICO conspiracy), two counts of murder in aid of racketeering, two counts of murder with a firearm during and in relation to  a crime of violence, conspiracy to distribute and possess with the intent to distribute controlled substances and conspiracy to commit witness tampering.

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In 2020, Devine was sentenced to four consecutive terms of life imprisonment followed by a term of 240 months imprisonment and five years supervised release. Mangum was sentenced to three consecutive life sentences plus 240 months in prison. Devine and Mangum appealed the sentence on numerous counts, all of which were rejected by the court, according to the release.

Demetrice Devine is currently serving his life sentences at the “Supermax” Federal Prison in Colorado, as recommended the court at the sentencing hearing, stated the release.

“Evidence presented at trial and other public documents established that Devine was the leader of the Gangsta Killer Bloods (GKB), and then created the Black Mob Gangstas (BMG), which became part of the Donald Gee Family (DGF) organization,” stated the release. “The BMG/DGF are sets of the ‘Bloods’ gang whose members committed various crimes in the city of Raleigh and especially in the area of Haywood Street.”

Mangum was another high-ranking member of BMG/DGF, according to the release. “BMG/DGF members committed acts of violence to maintain membership and discipline, both within the gang and against non-gang members,” stated the release. “Members committed acts of violence, including murder, attempted murder, and assaults, in order to maintain their positions within the gang and to be promoted within the leadership structure of the gang.

“BMG/DGF also held gang meetings to communicate gang information, to recruit members, issue punishment and collect gang dues from each BMG/DGF member for the benefit of the BMG/DGF organization. A portion of the dues were saved and utilized locally in what was referred to as a ‘community rent box’ (CRB) while another portion was sent up the chain of command to gang leadership in Virginia and New York,” the release continued. “BMG/DGF members were permitted to earn their money for dues through various methods, including, but not limited to, robberies, fraud schemes, and drug distribution. The monies were used locally for loans to gang members, for drug purchases, for firearm purchases, for gifts, and cellular telephones for high-ranking members who were in jail. Devine ordered that individuals selling narcotics in and around Haywood Street who were not BMG/DGF members were also required to pay gang dues in order to continue their drug sales in territory controlled by BMG/DGF. Individuals who did not pay gang dues risked being robbed, assaulted, or murdered.”

According to the release, in his leadership position, Devine directed members of his gang to shoot Adarius Fowler, a 16-year-old rival gang member who died from gunshot wounds, as well as ordered a gang member to shoot a person who provided information to law enforcement regarding the murder of Fowler. While this person was recovering from those gunshot injuries in the hospital, Devine ordered that the person be killed, according to the release.

“Devine presided over a ‘beat-in’ gang initiation of a BMG/DGF gang member and personally assaulted another gang member whose loyalty he questioned,” stated the release. “Devine conspired with other gang members to silence and threaten gang members that had been provided subpoenas to testify in a federal proceeding.”

The release also stated that Mangumalong with other gang members, conspired to shoot Rodriguez Burrell, an 18-year-old rival gang member, because he refused to pay money to BMG/DGF. Burrell was shot multiple times in the presence of his father and died of his wounds.

In affirming the convictions and sentences, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals concluded that “Devine’s desire for ‘respect’ at all costs led to the murder of Adarius Fowler, while the Gangstas’ insatiable desire for ‘money’ led to the execution of Rodriguez Burrell. This collective malevolence . . . led to a neighborhood where so many deserved so much better and where respect for the old and opportunities for the young existed no longer.”

Devine and Mangum both sold drugs on behalf of BMG/DGF, according to the release. The jury found Devine guilty of conspiracy to distribute and possession with the intent to distribute more than 280 grams of cocaine base (crack), more than 500 grams of cocaine and a quantity of marijuana. Devine frequently provided drugs to lower ranking gang members for further distribution into the community, stated the release. The jury found Mangum guilty of conspiracy to distribute and possession with the intent to distribute a quantity of cocaine and marijuana.

The prosecution of Devine and Mangum was a part of an Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force Operation (OCDETF) targeting violent gang members and drug traffickers in Raleigh.

Easley made the announcement after the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals issued its opinion. The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Raleigh Police Department led the investigation with assistance from the North Carolina Department of Public Safety, Wake County Sheriff’s Office, Raleigh/Wake City-County Bureau of Identification, United States Marshal’s Service, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the North Carolina Office of the Chief Medical Examiner.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Dena King (now U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina) and Scott Lemmon (now Deputy Criminal Chief for the Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force, or OCDETF, section of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of North Carolina) prosecuted this case with Christina Taylor with the U.S. Department of Justice Criminal Division’s Organized Crime and Gang Section.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Kristine Fritz defended the case before the Appellate Court.